Sunday, November 1, 2020

Former Detroit Metro Airport official convicted for receiving more than $6 million in bribes


James Warner, a former Detroit Metropolitan Airport supervisor convicted of receiving more than $6 million in bribes — the third-largest amount in U.S. history — was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Wednesday.

The sentence from U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts fell far short of the 25 years sought by prosecutors, and below the national record 28-year sentence for corruption. Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick received that record sentence seven years ago, tying the corruption sentence issued to Ohio county politician Jimmy Dimora.

Warner, 53, of Commerce Township was convicted of 10 crimes in June, including bribery, theft and money laundering conspiracies, and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors say he steered $43.7 million worth of airport contracts to three co-conspirators in return for more than $6 million in kickbacks — the highest total in the history of public corruption cases in Metro Detroit.

The judge said Warner has redeeming qualities — family and friends called him a good, supportive man — and said his crimes did not cause as much damage as those committed by Kilpatrick, whose racketeering activity included pocketing approximately $1 million in illegal benefits.

- Advertisement -

“Kwame Kilpatrick mightily contributed to the slide of Detroit both locally and nationally, contributed to (Detroit’s) slide into bankruptcy and the city’s tarnished image,” the judge said.

“Mr. Warner, while a significantly corrupt public official, is not in the same position,” Roberts added.

Warner, who hung his head at hearing the sentence, apologized to his friends, family and airport colleagues. He also apologized to the judge.

“I respect the system and the role everyone plays in it and I am hopeful the sentence allows me to find work in the future and to be there for my friends and family,” he said.

- Advertisement -

The government has seized $11 million from Warner and co-conspirators during the years-long criminal investigation.

Warner’s lawyer pushed for no more than a four-year sentence.

The money Warner received from airport contractors is the largest bribe total prosecuted in the history of the eastern district of Michigan.

Warner is among more than 109 public officials, bureaucrats and union leaders charged with public corruption in Metro Detroit in the past decade.

Jurors deliberated for about four hours last summer before reaching the verdict following a trial that lasted parts of three weeks. In a rare move, Warner testified in his own defense.

Warner is a dishonest and deceitful man whose time on the witness stand featured “perjury-laced testimony,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Eaton Brown said.

“At the end of the day, Mr. Warner robbed citizens and taxpayers blind,” Brown told the judge, “and he had no qualms doing it.”

Warner, an airport manager and field inspector who also worked for West Bloomfield Township, is the rare indicted public official to stand trial on corruption charges and risk a decades-long federal prison sentence.

Two of the most recent politicians to stand trial in federal court —Kilpatrick and Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds — were convicted and sentenced to double-digit prison sentences.

The bribery conspiracy outlined by prosecutors started in May 2010 when Warner was working as a field inspector at the airport approving maintenance and repair contracts. He headed several related schemes involving Metro Detroit contractors, including Romulus businessman William Pritula, whose company William Pritula & Sons held facilities and maintenance contracts at the airport, prosecutors said.

Warner drafted and submitted inflated invoices for work Pritula was hired to perform at the airport, according to the government. The payments totaled more than $18 million.

In return, Warner received approximately half of the profits from the contracts, or more than $5 million, according to the indictment.

- Advertisement -

Pritula pleaded guilty to bribery and was sentenced to probation. He agreed to forfeit $5.4 million to the government.

Federal court records describe Warner as a greedy, potty-mouthed felon.

“If it weren’t for me, your ass would be out,” Warner told one airport contractor, according to the indictment.

That contractor, authorities allege, was Gary Tenaglia of Rochester, who was accused of defrauding the Wayne County Airport Authority of $1.5 million. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison.

Warner allegedly gave Tenaglia inside information so the contractor’s company, Envision Electric, could win contracts. In return, Warner received 10% of each invoice, prosecutors said.

At one dinner, Warner and Tenaglia discussed contracts and kickbacks, prosecutors said.

“During the meal, James Warner wrote ‘5k,’ a proposed kickback amount, on a napkin,” prosecutors wrote in the indictment. “He folded it and slid it across the table to Gary Tenaglia. After Gary Tenaglia acknowledged the meaning of the writing on the napkin, James Warner retrieved the napkin and ate it.”


Former Venezuelan national treasurer indicted in US for money laundering

Hugo Chávez’s former nurse has been charged with money laundering in a Miami federal court, accused of taking bribes from a billionaire media mogul...

Actress Lori Loughlin begins 2-month prison sentence for role in college admissions scam

Actress Lori Loughlin reported to a federal prison in Northern California on Friday to start a two-month sentence for her role in a massive...

FirstEnergy fires CEO, other executives over Ohio bribery scandal

FirstEnergy Corp. has fired its CEO amid multiple federal investigations related to an Ohio nuclear bailout law passed year. The Akron-based utility company announced in a...

Ukraine’s court strips critical power from anti-corruption agency

Ukraine's Constitutional Court has stripped the country’s anti-corruption agency of some of its critical powers. The high court’s ruling published on October 28 declared it...

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak sent back to prison for 17 years in corruption case

Former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak was ordered back to prison on Thursday (Oct 29) as the country's Supreme Court upheld a 17-year jail...

Subscribe For More

Get our daily notification on the latest financial crimes news around the World


Latest News

This Week

2 Ohio political operatives plead guilty in bribery probe involving ex-House Speaker Householder

Two Ohio political operatives pleaded guilty to charges that they conspired to bail out two aging Ohio nuclear power plants. Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, and Juan...

Macau to sign agreement with World Bank Group over money laundering risk assessment

Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak was granted powers by the Chief executive to sign a Reimbursable Advisory Services Agreement Concerning Risk Assessment of...

South Korea’s former Vice Justice Minister sentenced to jail for bribery and sexual favors

Former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-eui, the figure at the center of one of Korea’s biggest political sex scandals, was placed under pretrial detention...

Lodi City Council candidate arrested for laundering money through gambling

A Lodi City Council candidate and Stockton business owner was arrested Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of money laundering, along with other criminal charges, the...

Adblock Detected!

Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by whitelisting our website.

Enable Notifications    Ok No thanks